In an earlier blog we highlighted that CI should not focus on technology. This time, I would like to point out the obvious: the customer should always come first in customer intelligence. ‘If it’s that obvious, why point it out?’, you may think. The answer is quite simple: because so many companies tend to forget the consequences of this universal truth.
The customer doesn’t care about channels
Think, for instance, of the various communication channels that a marketing department uses to send the messages it wants to convey to the customer. This is ok as an organizational principle, but you should also look at this strategy from a customer perspective. Aren’t you sending the same message twice to the same customer? Or, when the customer is trying to contact you, aren’t you keeping certain information limited to a specific communication channel? Try to align your marketing, communication and sales strategy as much as possible, in order to keep your interaction with the customer as transparant as possible.
Enough is enough
Try to limit the number of interactions as well. You may have defined a customer as an interesting target for a specific type of communication, but this does not mean you should continuously bombard this customer with all kinds of messages that you consider to be interesting. First, the customer may not agree that this is interesting: they may just be interested in this one product they inquired about, and that triggered your marketing efforts. Second: even relevant information may become annoying if you send it too often. The customer will not tell you when to back off and will probably just ignore you and ask to be removed from the mailing list. But when you use the available information on your customer intelligently, by collecting, combining and analyzing all available data, you may end up staying relevant for the customer at all times.
The customer is not just digital
The most dangerous assumption any organization can make about customer intelligence and big data, is that all available digital data on the customer can lead to the so-called “360° view”. Granted, the customer uses digital channels to interact with you more and more often. And nowadays you can not only analyze what the customer said, but even their tone of voice. However, even then, a large part of the interaction between you and your customer will still take place in the offline world. Imagine a customer that wants to buy a car. He configures his ideal car online for two different brands. In the one brand’s store, he is immediately recognized as the customer who configured his car online. In the other, he needs to start from scratch. Which car will the customer choose, you reckon? If I were the customer, I would be tempted to think: “If brand B screws up now, during the sales, how trustworthy will they be when I need their support?” Online information will never lead to a 360° view.
Customer communication is not marcom’s prerogative
The communication strategy is usually defined by the marcom department. But that does not mean that they should be the only ones to know what the communication strategy is all about. Other departments will also be in touch with the customer. Think of the finance department and/or the customer service department, that often get confronted with customers’ problems. Solving this problem is one part of the challenge. Another part is interacting with the customer to the customer’s satisfaction or delight. In order to do so, you need to be aware of all communication with this customer that has taken place up until now. Not just in their department but with every department. Only then you can avoid asking the customer for the same information twice, or trying to sell them upgrades when they really only want to complain about the service. This means: breaking down the silos of information and evolving towards a company-wide customer information system containing all the necessary data. Only a uniform source of high-quality data can lead to a uniform high-quality customer experience.